Scientific fact threatening primitive superstition poses a hazard to remote indigenous tribes, proclaims this Sunday’s Times, in this weekly front-page sob story.
At issue is whether scientists who need DNA from aboriginal populations to fashion a window on the past are underselling the risks to present-day donors. Geographic origin stories told by DNA can clash with long-held beliefs, threatening a world view some indigenous leaders see as vital to preserving their culture.
They argue that genetic ancestry information could also jeopardize land rights and other benefits that are based on the notion that their people have lived in a place since the beginning of time.
Liberal egalitarianism rates not only naked savagery as equal to modern civilization, it also considers primitive cultures’ self-deluding myths as privileged from the challenge of fact.